- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; First Edition edition (May 16, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0742570339
- ISBN-13: 978-0742570337
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,475,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Samuel Adams: The Life of an American Revolutionary First Edition Edition
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Students, scholars, and general readers will welcome this important new study of Samuel Adams. Indeed, this is the best biography yet of the man Jefferson called "the helmsman of the American Revolution." Alexander's extensive research supports his view that Adams, "more than anybody, consistently and ardently worked to convince Americans of the need for independence" and kept the revolutionary movement alive during the critical early 1770s. Alexander (Univ. of Cincinnati) considers Adams the US's first "modern politician" in that he made politics his lifelong occupation, grasped the political power of the media, and linked the towns of Massachusetts through committees of correspondence that ultimately became an effective intercolonial communications network. Adams has been eclipsed in US public memory by more famous founding fathers; many remember him now primarily as the fellow who brewed beer. But Alexander makes the case that Adams was one of the most significant of the country's founders and did as much as anyone to build an American republic dedicated to liberty and equality. This well-written book includes 51 pages of notes and an excellent 19-page bibliography to guide further study. Highly recommended. All university and major public libraries. (CHOICE)
Even for supposedly objective historians, it has often been difficult to remain neutral about Sam Adams. He was an inspiring orator or a demagogue inflaming the mob. He was a brilliant organizer or an unprincipled manipulator. Alexander gratifyingly avoids the pitfalls of easy categorization. Still, in a generally admiring biography, he convincingly asserts two consistent aspects of Adams' career. First, he was a political animal, who felt most alive when organizing, negotiating, and when necessary, compromising to achieve his goals. Second, he was a true revolutionary, who viewed the arena of politics as a means for transforming American society in accordance with republican principles. His hopes extended beyond simple independence from Britain. Within those parameters, Alexander examines Adams' activities during and after the revolution as he dealt with a variety of issues, including slavery, the rights of women, and foreign affairs. Alexander also makes clear that Adams was no austere, cold Robespierre but a man with a vibrant personal life. A well-done re-examination of the life of an American icon. (Booklist)
Extremely thorough. (American History 2011-10-01)
Samuel Adams is the most elusive of the Founding Fathers and, until now, the only one without a first-rate biography. Historian John Alexander, a careful author and meticulous scholar, has solved the matter of a decent life history. In this definitive biography, Alexander not only shows what made Adams tick, but fleshes out his contributions to the American Revolution. Samuel Adams: The Life of an American Revolutionary is the book for those who wish to understand both this extraordinary American Founder and the shadowy contours of the American Revolution. (John Ferling, author of Independence and The Ascent of George Washington)
John Alexander makes the case undeniable: No individual was more central than Samuel Adams to the coming of the Revolution and the effort to sustain republican society and government once independence had been achieved. Engagingly written, Samuel Adams offers a thorough and page-turning account of Adams's life and his remarkable times. (Barbara Clark Smith, author of The Freedoms We Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America)
About the Author
John K. Alexander is Professor of History and Distinguished Teaching Professor (Emeritus) at the University of Cincinnati. An associate editor of American National Biography (1999), he is also the author of Render Them Submissive: Responses to Poverty in Philadelphia, 1760-1800 (1980), The Selling of the Constitutional Convention of 1787: A History of News Coverage (1990), and Samuel Adams: America’s Revolutionary Politician (2002).
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During the first half of the 19th century Samuel Adams's contributions were considered second only to those of George Washington. His second cousin John Adams (whose political career Samuel Adams helped launch) believed that "without the true character of Samuel Adams, the true history of the American Revolution can never be written." Strangely, this is precisely what many 20th and 21st century historians have attempted -- nevertheless, several recent biographies of Samuel Adams attest that he is being rightly restored to his former renown, something for which all of these biographers are to be applauded.
(I also admire and recommend Ira Stoll's biography of Samuel Adams, which is also well-written and includes some additional interesting materials, but because Alexander's biography is stronger on the historical context, with more detail and covering a broader range, for example in connection with the crucial land bank issue as well as a later controversy involving George Washington, I recommend starting here.)
Alexander's biography is clearly written, thorough, and well-paced, providing a full explanation of Adams's transformative role within his historical context. The book is obviously the work of many, many years of research, contemplation, and close consideration. (It is revised and expanded from the author's earlier biography of the same figure.)
The Revolution began in Boston, where Samuel Adams was the leader of the patriots, tirelessly working to safeguard the liberties of his countrymen. He was also a major figure -- some argue the major figure -- in both Continental Congresses.
An understanding of the life and character of Samuel Adams is essential to and inextricable from an understanding of the early history and founding principles of the United States, and as such this biography is invaluable. In addition it and its subject has much to teach us today as we consider freedom, democracy, and political society in general.
Samuel Adams has left us an astounding legacy -- a true hero of freedom and democracy.
Although this book is a non-fiction work by a professional historian, (John Alexander is the leading expert on Samuel Adams) it is nevertheless accessible and enjoyable to readers like myself, who enjoy a good story and sometimes skip the footnotes. As an amateur historian, and as a voter in elections, one of the tests I apply to both historical figures and political candidates is to ask myself "would I enjoy having a couple of drinks with them?" Both John Alexander and Samuel Adams pass that test with flying colors in this wonderful book.
For anyone interested in the causes of the American Revolution and its' political underpinnings, this is a must-read.